AWAY WITH THE FAIRIES 

‘Away With the Fairies’ is a photography series by Meg exploring queerness and a return to nature. Queer people are often driven away from countryside and pastoral areas to the city for fear of being the ‘only gay in the village’ and this loss of connection to nature has recently manifested in the cottagecore aesthetic, a romanticization of pastoral and agricultural life. 

For marginalised people, Cottagecore is a form of gentle escapism into a world in which you are self-sufficient and existing away from homophobia, transphobia, and the male gaze, all while “carving out a space for themselves in imagery traditionally taken up by rich, straight white people” (Ellis, 2020). In ‘Cruising Utopia’ , we are told we “can glimpse the worlds proposed and promised by queerness in the realm of the aesthetic” (Munoz, 2009) and Cottagecore is the perfect example of this. 

Away With Fairies has been featured in Publications like Bricks Magazine. Below is a sample of some of the photos and visual art in the collection.

Hir

Hiraeth (2021)
noun · a nostalgic longing for a place which can never be revisited. 
Image Description: A white thin androgynous figure wearing a white crop top, yellow high waisted shorts and a crown looks down to where they are holding a progress pride flag. They are surrounded by ammi majus flowers and nature.

Pictured: Meg McGrady 

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Ammi Majestic (2021)
Image Description: A white thin man with long blonde hair and a beard lies in the grass. He wears a white regal shirt and a feather ring. Around his head is a crown of ammi majus and leaves. His eyes are closed and his hand delicately reaches towards his brow. Asleep or merely dreaming we don’t know.

Pictured: Lewis Wade

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Poppy (2021)
Image Description: A white thin femme figure wearing a white shirt and beige skirt lies on the grass looking towards the viewer. Behind them is a field of grass, poppies and flowers. In the distance behind the treetops, you can see the city slowly invading the skyline. 

Pictured: Chloe Hodgson

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Flourishing (2021)
“Having lived in a place pretty evenly split with town and countryside almost my whole life, the difference between the two has always been quite clear to me. The countryside isn’t here to judge you, it’s just here to exist, like you. The bees aren’t gonna misgender you or sneer at your life choices. You don’t have to worry about what the people coming around the corner will say about you because there’s no one else for miles, letting you enjoy relaxing in the sun and nature to your fullest extent. It’s somewhere to finally take a deep breath and let down your guard.”

Image Description: In this black and white photograph, a mixed race chinese-british genderfluid person lies in the grass. Their hair is full of flourishing and blooming viburnum flowers.

Pictured: Ashley Goh 

“The idea that the countryside is not a place for queer people seems to persist, partly because we see such a vibrant culture in major metropolitan areas, but also because the history of the countryside has largely been projected through a heterosexual lens.”

- Tom Woodhouse for the Museum of English Rural Life (2021)

Revolution Now (2021)

"Marginalised groups and minority communities have been hit harder than any other groups by the increasing effects of climate change, particularly those from lower economic countries, people of colour as well as future and younger generations." - Leonardo Yip for Earth.Org

With this in mind, where are the campaigns to use internet trends like Cottagecore to help prevent climate catastrophe? If we love the natural world and the aesthetic of cottagecore so much why aren't we working to save it and protect the marginalised people who often champion it?

Image Description: There are four different posters with a WW2 propaganda style. These posters challenge people to use their love for cottagecore to protect the environment from the climate crisis. 

The first one reads: Stop the Climate Crisis. Protect marginalised people affected by it. Educate the next generation.

The second one reads: Evacuate to a Greener World. Escape to nature and then return. Learn how important it is and bring back methods to protect it!

The third one reads: Mother Nature Needs You! Calling all Cottagecore enthusiasts. We need you to help your aesthetic by helping your environment. 

The final one reads: Join the Cottagecore Revolution Today. Your environment needs you to reject Capitalism and return to nature! By degree of Mother Nature herself, all Cottagecore lovers must immerse themselves in the efforts to save the world from the Climate Crisis for without it no such aesthetic can exist. 

Stop Protect Educate
Stop Protect Educate

Cottagecore Climate Change Poster

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Escape To A Greener World
Escape To A Greener World

Cottagecore Climate Change Poster

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Cottagecore Revolution
Cottagecore Revolution

Cottagecore Climate Change Poster

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Stop Protect Educate
Stop Protect Educate

Cottagecore Climate Change Poster

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Daydream in Blue (2021)

“Daydream. I fell asleep amid the flowers for a couple of hours on a beautiful day. Daydream. I dream of you amid the flowers for a couple of hours. Such a beautiful day.”

Image Description: A white thin androgenous figure wearing a white lacy dress and dramatic red eye makeup stands in a field of burnet-saxifrage flowers. They gently hold in their fist a burnet-saxifrage and stand underneath a blue sky with a couple of clouds passing above.

Pictured: Meg McGrady 

"For Queer Women and Women of a Global Majority background the world is a violent place. In the UK, “One in five lesbians (21 per cent)...experienced a hate crime or incident in [2017] because of their sexual orientation” (Stonewall, 2017) while “In 2013/14, there were 47,571 ‘racist incidents’ recorded by the police in England and Wales. On average, that is about 130 incidents per day” (IRR, 2014). And while we can protest and petition for change, sometimes dreaming of a utopia where these problems don’t exist is as radical as direct action; for it takes away the power from the people who seek to oppress and gives the oppressed an end goal for their action, a plan for the future that exists away from the struggle to get there."
- The Core of the Issue, Meg McGrady

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Avoiding the Male Gaze (2021)

Whilst taking this photo, a group of boys rode past on their bikes making comments about myself and Ashley. We both nervously laughed them off as they sped past. We paused and I took another photo.

“By removing itself from a world filled with the male gaze, cottagecore also separates itself from a form of external sexualization that so many women, especially queer women go through every day. But it also doesn't swing this round the opposite way to infantilize them, instead, emphasising a sense of agency and self sufficiently that extends to identity and presentation.” - Rowan Ellis (2020)
Image Description: A thin mixed race chinese-british genderfluid person stands in a collection of reeds by a lake. They are smiling and looking over their left shoulder. 

Pictured: Ashley Goh

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Fuck It I'm A Flower (2021)

"...Growing taller every day

Getting greener by the hour

And I don't care what people say."

Image Description: A white thin man with long blonde hair, a beard and a white shirt sniffs a bouquet of ammi majus flowers.

Pictured: Lewis Wade

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Rainbow & Eyes Warm, Eyes Wide (2021)

"There is no doubt that city-living is idolised and idealised within the queer community. We have mythologised what a queer, urban existence means. Where rural spaces are positioned as places of persecution, isolation, and absence of community, cities frequently are portrayed as epicentres of tolerance, community, and freedom. And yet, this focus on urban queer communities results in an alienation of LGBTQ+ folks in rural areas. Meteronormativity – a term popularised by queer anti-urbanist Scott Herring – describes the way urban living has been assumed to be a prerequisite for queerness." - Ellen Jones

Image Description: A thin femme white figure wearing a white top, beige skirt and tiara with dark blonde hair in plaits is pictured in three images. In two, they are reading a book and laughing. In the other, she stands solemnly wrapped in a pride flag. 

Pictured: Chloe Hodgson

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Willow (2021)

The willow weeps for I must depart. 
Can’t bend and strain my too-big heart.
With heavy lids laced with the dew. 
I cut a branch and off I flew. 

I can’t be crowned without a home
And in the cityscape I must always roam. 
But the throne of bark where once I sat 
Never changes, unlike the whitewashed flats. 

I will return. I will learn to bend. 
I will take the hurt and start to mend. 
I will weave myself within your sway. 
And I will root myself within the they. 

Image Description: A white thin androgenous figure wearing a white crop top, yellow high waisted shorts and a crown pushes aside the branches of a willow tree. They are holding a bouquet of ammi majus and yellow irises. 

Pictured: Meg McGrady

"Ultimately, growing up queer in a rural, predominantly working class area like the Valleys can feel suffocating once you’ve accepted yourself. There’s a definite tendency for young queer people to fly the nest of their rural beginnings and into bigger, more urban environments."
- George Griffiths for Vice (2019)

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Crowning Glory (2021)
Image Description: In this black and white image a white thin androgenous figure wearing a white crop top crouches on the ground with a ammi majus plant framing the right side of their face. 

Pictured: Meg McGrady

Drowning In Memories

Drowning in Memories (2022)

Made over six months, 'Drowning in Memories' is a reminder of what happens if we fail to address the Climate Crisis. 

Image Description: This embroidery is built up of many thin bits of thread on a blue background. The image is of a man floating in the water with it rippling out from around him. 

People pictured include: Chloe Hodgson, Ashley Goh, Lewis Wade and Meg McGrady.

 

If you are a member of LGBTQ+ community who grew up or now lives in the UK countryside who would be intrested in being photographed email Meg at megmcgrady@live.co.uk